Bored of driving a small car? Want something big with higher ground clearance and superior ride quality? A car to conquer mountainous speed breakers and craters that we call potholes? Want more juice without compromising on fuel efficiency? Want to buy an SUV, but the sky-rocketing prices are holding you from taking the plunge? Well, Ford seems to have an answer to get you out of your quandary. Here is our Ford Freestyle Roadtest Review.
Ford, a name synonymous with performance, practicality and driving pleasure, will soon introduce the all-new compact utility vehicle – FreeStyle. With its SUV-like stance, spirited performance, innovative in-car technology, and outstanding fuel efficiency will be the hallmark of Ford’s latest offering. “Ford Freestyle is a product tailor-made for progressive, independent, free-spirited customers,” says Anurag Mehrotra, President and Managing Director, Ford India.
Exteriors & Styling:
FreeStyle, which is presented as an all-new product, shares the same platform as the Figo, but the similarities end right there. Unlike other car manufacturers which add a few plastic bits and pieces here and there, Ford has done a fairly good job with the styling, most significant being the menacing front grille with a three-dimensional mesh nicely integrated within the body colored bumper, the lower half is finished in matte black, with aluminium finished skid-plates on the front & rear bumpers.
Smoked front headlights look very good, but miss out on DRL’s, while pronounced wheel-arches allover with newly designed 15-inch alloy-wheels & wider 185/60 R15 tyres offer a better grip and superior ride. Best in class ground clearance of 190MM tackles most surfaces with ease. Black plastic-cladding running across the car nicely integrates itself with the front and rear bumpers, the front fog-lights get new black C-shaped sculpted accents which also make its way to the rear bumper. And also the roof-rails, which do not just sit there for cosmetic appeal, but are super-functional too, by supporting weights of up to 50kgs.
Interiors & Infotainment:
Step inside, and the Ford FreeStyle will impress you with its sporty, dual tone interiors. There are several storage compartments, more than 20 of them, to tuck away everything that you may need on your road-trips – from water bottles to umbrellas and more. There is also a hidden storage area near the driver, only accessible when the driver-side door is open. Sadly the rear-door doesn’t get any door pockets. The chrome rings on the A/C vents, the rotary switches of the automatic climate control, the infotainment system and chrome door handles give the interior of the car a premium look. On our short drive, in and around Jaipur, we were well isolated from the outside world, all thanks to the extensive use of damping and sound absorbing materials to reduce vibrations and road noise, where only the harshest of broken road noise filtered through the cabin, nothing unsettling or disturbing though, making the Freestyle’s cabin one of the quietest among hatchbacks.
The in-car infotainment system features a 6.5-inch capacitive touchscreen with Ford’s SYNC 3, the audio was pleasing to the ears, to say the least, and can get loud enough to please others on the road too. The high-resolution capacitive touchscreen is one of the most responsive displays we’ve ever used. It also supports Apple CarPlay & Android Auto which allows the driver to control their entertainment and the connected smartphone with voice commands. The FreeStyle comes replete with convenient features which include a reverse parking camera, keyless entry and push start. The automatic climate is among the best-in-class, capable of bringing down the temperature down from 50 degrees to a comfortable 25 degrees in just 15 minutes.
Engine – Drive – Transmission:
FreeStyle comes paired with the Ford’s all-new, three-cylinder 1.2L TiVCT petrol engine that is small, light, strong and frugal. The naturally aspirated engine puts out a staggering best-in-class 96PS of peak power @6500rpm and 120Nm of torque @4250rpm, which sounds true to Ford’s fun-to-drive DNA. Potential buyers can also opt for Ford’s trusted 1.5L TDCi diesel engine that generates class-leading 100PS peak power @3750rpm and 215Nm of torque, which is available from as low as 1750rpm all the way up to 3000rpm. Both engines will be mated to the all-new, five-speed manual transmission that’s sportier, quicker and enhances the fun-to-drive elements.
This new transmission is almost 15% lighter, helping improve fuel efficiency while reducing NVH. It requires 40% lesser gear-oil than its predecessor, which translates to slicker and more responsive gear shifts by further enhancing the FreeStyle’s sporty appeal. Adding to the list of all-new features and technologies, Ford has introduced innovative and first-in-class intelligent technology, Active Rollover Prevention (ARP) with the FreeStyle. The system works with Electronic Stability Control and applies brakes on relevant wheels to decrease engine torque and help prevent any potential rollover situations. FreeStyle delivers sportier performance in all driving conditions and features uniquely tuned suspension with increased track-width. With TCS, ABS with EBD, hill launch assist, a segment first, standard dual airbags across all variants and for those looking for greater safety, FreeStyle offers six airbags on the top Titanium+ trim. Ford has left no stone unturned when it comes to safety.
With very limited time on our hands and distance to cover, we found the FreeStyle to be very capable. Driving it through the narrow lanes of the Pink City or out on the smooth national highways and not so great state highways, the car held its own. Be it the suspension which offers outstanding ride quality and superb handling, the all-new three-cylinder 1.2L naturally aspirated engine which is quite spirited and the 120Nm of torque made sure the car drives comfortably at city speeds in higher gears and pulls away without a hitch. The Freestyle never felt out of breath. The gear ratios are well spaced out, the clutch is light and progressive, not to forget the brakes which did an excellent job of bringing the car to a standstill without any drama.
The road that leads to Nahargarh Fort is curvy and offers some really tight corners, that is when we felt the need to play with the gear-box, as the three-cylinder engine was going slightly out of breath. With four fully grown adults, all above 80kgs sitting abreast in the FreeStyle, all the heavy camera equipment stuffed inside the boot, could be one of the reasons that hampered the performance slightly. However, the car still maintained its poise and there was minimum body-roll. All in all, a very promising Cross-Hatch, CUV as Ford likes to call the Freestyle. The Freestyle surely shines away with the typical Ford DNA that brings a wide smile to your face.
Ford surely has a winner at its hands and for that they need to price the Freestyle at a real competitive price.
Review & Photography – Amit Shelar